The latest food trend to hit the internet is quite the bombshell.
Hot chocolate bombs have burst on to the culinary – and social media – scene in recent weeks, and are sure to quench the thirst of those whose winter drink of choice is a cup of frothy, delicious cocoa.
The concept is fairly simple: an edible chocolate sphere packed with hot chocolate mix and (optional – but highly recommended) tiny marshmallows.
The chocolate shell is typically kept very thin so that when one dunks it in a cup of hot milk – or places it in a cup and pours boiling milk over the top – the “bomb” melts into the liquid, leaving little marshmallows floating on top.
Many have started recording these Instagram-worthy “explosions” for social media. Indeed, a cursory scan of the hashtag #hotchocolatebombs reveals more than 85,000 posts on the photo-sharing platform alone.
So, how did it all start? Like with most of this year's food trends this year, the bomb is believed to have been born on TikTok.
User Cathy Ortiz, founder of sweet shop Love Meets Sugar, started making them as early as July, with her videos of different flavours racking up more than 100,000 views.
"I was part of a cake pop group and somebody had mentioned a hot cocoa bomb and I'm like, I used to make bath bombs, so let me set this up because it's perfect for me," she told Today Food.
The trend is catching on in the UAE, too
With the trend combining the showmanship of a bath bomb with the indulgence of chocolate, it’s no surprise that it’s blown up on social media.
Today, there are several flavours and fillings – from peppermint to Nutella – to choose from, while some have been experimenting with different shapes (think snowmen and reindeers). And UAE residents are also warming up to the chocolate bomb's allure.
“I first spotted this trend on Instagram about a month ago when I saw a couple of fellow bakers take up this fun treat," says Ayesha Nemat Khan, a Dubai home chef. "Since then, I have seen multiple versions of the hot chocolate bomb every day, and they’re all unique in their own way."
Though admitting she usually finds food trends "disappointing", Khan gave it a go, finding the treat made her "feel like a child again".
"Although it’s technically just a cup of hot cocoa, the whole experience – watching the chocolate melt and the mini marshmallows pop up – makes me squeal with excitement every time."
There's also another reason the trend has gained traction in recent weeks – with their appearance similar to Christmas baubles, bombs make a tasty gift for the festive season.
As a result, a number of restaurants and cafes in the UAE have been whipping up chocolate spheres to cater to demand.
When North 28 Restaurant, which overlooks Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates, started selling a penguin-shaped hot chocolate bomb for Dh45, it proved to be so popular, it is now sold out.
JLT venue LDC Kitchen + Coffee has launched limited-edition chocolate bombs via Deliveroo, with each sphere packed with cocoa and marshmallows (Dh28 for one or Dh70 for three).
Meanwhile, Spontiphoria, a cafe in Dubai's Wasl Square, has been making approximately 200 hot chocolate bombs a day.
“We launched them in November after seeing a couple of enquiries on social media about places that were making them,” says owner Wajiha Ghayas. “Within a few days, I got a call from the chef saying that he needed more equipment to keep up with demand.”
The cafe currently sells three flavours, marshmallow, Nutella and caramel, with prices starting from Dh10. They’ve also started selling special shapes – snowmen, penguins and reindeers – for Dh12 each.
“A lot of people have been gifting them or saving them as something special to drink on Christmas Eve,” says Ghayas.
If you can’t buy them, make them
One of the advantages of this trend is that they're easy to replicate in your own kitchen.
“You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen and don’t need any professional dessert or baking skills, either. All you need are a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time,” says Khan, who has experimented with different flavours such as salted caramel and cinnamon.
“You can have fun and customise it – and both children and adults will enjoy making it and drinking it after."
How to make your own hot chocolate bombs
100gm milk or dark chocolate
2 tbsp hot chocolate mix
½ cup mini marshmallows
Two semi-circular moulds (such as silicon half-circle trays)
A food thermometer
1. To temper the chocolate, melt it in the microwave in 30-second intervals until completely liquid. Bring the temperature of the chocolate down to 29°C, stirring constantly until it comes to temperature.
2. Once the chocolate reaches the above temperature, immediately pour it into the moulds.
3. Fill each mould with half of the melted chocolate and use a spoon to spread the chocolate around so that it covers the entire hemisphere.
4. Flip the mould over and tap it a few times to get rid of any excess chocolate. Let it sit upside down for two minutes; this creates even and thin chocolate shells.
5. Clean the edges and let the chocolate set in the fridge for one hour. Once set, remove the shells very carefully from the moulds.
6. Fill one of the shells with the hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.
7. Heat a plate and rub the base of the other shell on a warm surface to melt it slightly, and immediately place it on top of the filled shell. The melted chocolate will help seal the two shells together. Rub your finger along the line to make sure the shells are sealed together properly.
7. Decorate it any way you like with your favourite toppings.
8. Place the bomb in a mug, pour hot milk over it, and watch the magic unravel.
Recipe by Ayesha Nemat Khan